This past September, students across 31 Priority elementary schools in Tennessee shopped for brand new books at no cost to families or schools, thanks to the Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation (GELF), Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE), and Scholastic.
Opportunities with Literacy (OWL) Fest benefitted more than 10,000 students, teachers, and reading specialists through the distribution of more than 80,000 books to Priority Pre-K through 5th grade students. They were able to select 6-8 high quality and high interest titles to take home and keep forever, and teachers were also able to order resources to help support their classroom.
These unique shopping experiences were curated to meet young learners in the middle of their reading journey. As only 40% of Tennessee 3rd graders read proficiently, ranging from 22-38% of kids in Priority schools, this program has provided critical aid in building home libraries and strengthening reading proficiency (GELF).
Students at Chattanooga Hardy Elementary School hold up their selected titles at the campus' OWL Fest event.
"We are so beyond grateful that our school has been selected for Owl Fest,” said Bailey Gibson, Community Forward School Coordinator, Orchard Knob Elementary School. “Our students show up every single day to be the very best they can be, despite the adversities they face on a daily basis. Their passion and eagerness to learn and grow is inspiring. Anything we can offer them to foster their love for reading and learning is exactly what we are all about!"
OWL Fest has advanced Tennessee’s literacy landscape and is part of GELF’s K-3 Home Library program. This year, the program delivered 1.2 million books to more than 200,000 students, teachers, librarians, and media specialists statewide.
“Scholastic is proud to continue the critical work with GELF to ensure children have access to books that they are excited about reading this school year and beyond," Scholastic Chief Academic Officer Amanda Alexander said. “Research from the Kids & Family Reading Report™ also tells us that more than half of kids (52%) say they like attending events that involve reading at their school or in their community, making OWL Fest an important part of the reading journey for the students of Tennessee.”